And So Goes the Potty Training


My daughter peed on the carpet today. It was a first, but somehow I am certain it will not be a last.

Potty training is a strange thing to deal with as a parent—at least for me. Naturally, I don’t remember my own, and I wasn’t really around for that fun with nieces or nephew. Nope, all the people I hung around with before my Muffin arrived pretty much had that covered.

I guess the closest experience we had was with our dog. Greg and I used to joke that having a puppy helps to prepare you for parenthood—at least it prepares you for daily poop discussions: “Did she poop today? “How was her pooping today? Still runny?” “Oh, we went to the park and she pooped twice!”

Dog. Daughter. Conversations could apply to either.

As a new parent, poop discussions begin only hours after the little bundle of joy arrives on the scene. Potty training, however, is another thing entirely. I really didn’t give it much thought until Muffin started nearing her second birthday.

Well, there was one incident when she was about fourteen months old. She was playing in the tub and I was sitting beside her. Suddenly, she stopped playing, got out of her inflatable toddler tub (which was sitting in the regular tub), pooped in the tub proper, and then returned to her bath. I excitedly (and stupidly) hoped that meant she would be easy to potty train.

But I didn’t think about it again until she turned two—and then my thoughts were more like Oh yeah, I guess I have to potty train. Isn’t this around the time one starts that? How does one do that exactly? So I read up a little bit and started. I bought some kid books about the potty to read to her and some DVDs (“Elmo’s Potty Time” and such) for her to watch. I started talking enthusiastically and excitedly about my own potty use and started bringing her into the bathroom with me.

But one thing I didn’t do was stress over it.  Maybe it’s being an older mom, but I was pretty sure she’d get the hang of it at some point, and in the mean time, the diapers seemed to do the trick. I was reassured when pretty much everything I read about potty training said not to push the issue, so I didn’t.

I read a recent article in a parenting magazine about a woman putting her two-year-old twin boys through “potty training boot camp.” The article detailed one mother’s determined efforts to train her sons by going completely cold turkey with diapers despite no signs of potty training readiness.  I read it and wondered why. I guess it was important to her, but me? Three weeks of following half-naked toddlers and cleaning up poop and pee stained carpets and furniture, all for the sake of not having to buy diapers? Soooo not worth it.  I’m in no rush to start the phase of my life where mad dashes to find public restrooms and dealing with the aftermath of grocery store accidents are commonplace. (At least that’s how I imagine my daughter’s early ‘big girl underwear’ days.)

Anyway, Muffin’s potty training started well, but then stalled. She has had some constipation issues and holds in the poop because it’s painful. We have to keep her on a semi-regular regimen of Miralax and/or mineral oil, but she still does her best to hold it, which just makes matters worse. She decided to stop using the potty altogether. Still, I didn’t stress. I’d suggest, I’d offer, and she’s shake her head no. I knew that she knew exactly what to do, she was just choosing not to. But I didn’t push because my Muffin is pretty strong-willed, and if there was one thing I didn’t need, it was another battle. She would have to do this in her own time, and of course, on her own terms. I was okay with that. In the mean time, I remained positive about it and continued to encourage and remind.

One day I emerged from the bathroom myself and said, “Charlie, do you know what Mommy just did? I went poop on the potty.” She looked up at me with a smile and said, “Yay, you did it! Good job, Mom!”

Thankfully, not long after the setback, she started a new preschool and that helped—routines and peer pressure work wonders! (She even naps at school!) Being at school helped to get her back to peeing on the potty, but the pooping is still an issue.

And now it’s getting stressful.

I can deal with a kid in diapers. I can deal with a potty-trained kid. But the kid who’s half potty trained? This is no fun at all. Because she’s figured out that diapers can be uncomfortable, so she’ll do things like take off her pants and diaper and then (unbeknownst to me) put her pants back on without any diaper. Or she’ll run around with no pants or diaper on at all. And then pee or poop winds up places it shouldn’t– like in her pants, or, as in today’s case, on the carpet.

I’m really hoping this phase is short-lived. Or at least hoping she’ll learn to aim for tile floor instead of the carpets.

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